Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development Launches New Energy Efficiency Program

May 13, 2011

Be SMART initiative to help reduce energy use and save money for Maryland families and businesses

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu applauded the launch of the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development's Be SMART (Save Money and Resources Today) program, one of the Department of Energy's (DOE) BetterBuildings projects. Be SMART – which is funded in part by $20 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – is helping to save energy, reduce energy bills, and increase the comfort, safety, and affordability of over 2,500 buildings in 15 communities across Maryland. The program is expected to support more than 900 jobs and reduce energy use up to 30 % in the homes, businesses and multifamily buildings that receive upgrades.

"This program encourages community members in Maryland to improve the energy performance of their homes, businesses and multifamily buildings, so that they can save money by saving energy," said Secretary Chu. "Across the country, energy efficiency programs are supporting new clean energy jobs, expanding the market for energy-saving products and services, and showing families and businesses how easy it is to reduce energy waste and save money."

The kick-off event yesterday educated stakeholders and partners about the ways Be SMART financing will work for them. Stakeholders and partners in attendance from the 15 targeted communities included local government officials, local contractors, economic development professionals, community developers, planning and codes officials, energy companies, and organizations including Main Street (the National Trust for Historic Preservation) and Habitat for Humanity, and others.

The Be SMART program has three main components – financing, outreach, and workforce development – which work together to address the energy efficiency needs of participating communities. Be SMART financing is available for the purchase and installation of energy efficiency measures including ENERGY STAR-qualified heating and cooling systems, insulation, windows, appliances, and water heating equipment.

Volunteer "Green Teams" will educate residents and business owners on how to access residential and small business loans and technical assistance through the Be SMART program. Maryland's Be SMART initiative also provides training for the implementation of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that will certify plan reviewers, inspectors, developers, engineers, and architects, and will assist local jurisdictions to implement and enforce energy codes.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development received $20 million in Recovery Act funds from DOE, which will be used primarily in partnership with local lenders to finance low interest loans for energy efficiency improvements to homes, businesses, and multifamily buildings.

The 15 targeted communities throughout Maryland include: Berlin (Worcester County), Cambridge (Dorchester County), Chestertown (Kent County), Cumberland (Allegany County), Denton (Caroline County), Easton (Talbot County), Elkton (Cecil County), Frostburg (Allegany County), Oakland (Garrett County), Princess Ann (Somerset County), Dundalk (Baltimore County), Westminster (Carroll County), Havre de Grace (Harford County), Salisbury (Wicomico County), and Takoma Park (Montgomery County).

BetterBuildings Program Background and History

BetterBuildings is a national DOE program that is working to transform the marketplace for energy efficiency upgrades in homes, businesses, and institutions. More than 40 state and local governments and partnering organizations received over $500 million to lay the foundation for a sustainable energy efficiency market in the United States. BetterBuildings partners are working to help consumers and businesses save money and reduce their energy use by providing high-quality, accessible and affordable energy improvements. The partners are also supporting local economies through the growth of a qualified energy efficiency workforce.

Over the next three years, the program will leverage an estimated $3 billion in additional funding and resources from the private sector, local communities, and nonprofit organizations. BetterBuildings aims to provide energy upgrades to 170,000 residential and commercial buildings, saving consumers about $65 million annually on energy bills.

BetterBuildings partnerships are using innovative approaches to test business models and identify real market solutions that will expand America's energy improvement industry. These business models and solutions will develop best practices that states or communities across the country can adopt to establish or improve comprehensive energy efficiency upgrade programs. To learn more about how the U.S. Department of Energy's BetterBuildings program is changing lives by changing buildings, visit the BetterBuildings website.

To learn more about DOE's Recovery Act investments, please visit the DOE Recovery Act website.